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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Azumanga Daioh:Festivals Vol 2
Azumanga Daioh:Festivals Vol 2
ADV Films // Unrated // June 8, 2004
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted July 1, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Show:

More odd and humorous happenings with Chiyo-Chan and all her friends in this second volume of Azumanga Daioh: the Animation!

This edition brings four more episodes of this amusing series.  These stories are funny and cute, but have a slightly odd slant to them that makes the show very entertaining.  First the girls compete against their teacher's rival in a sports festival.  The school is having a field day but Ms. Yukari and Ms. Minamo have placed a wager on the outcome of the event, adding a lot of pressure for the girls to win.

Then there is a cultural festival where the students turn their classroom into a fairyland and sell hand made stuffed animals.  Well, they sort of look like animals, even if they are named after large corporations and monuments.

There is a Japanese superstition that whatever you dream on New Year's night will come true in the following year.  We get to look inside four of the girl's heads to see what goes on while they sleep.  It is very strange and surreal, but awfully funny.

Finally we get an episode devoted to Ms. Sakaki.  It's Chiyo's birthday and Sakaki wants to get her young friend something, but what to buy?

If anything, this volume is better than the first one.  The episodes are more coherent, with each one telling a single story instead of several mostly unrelated scenes that like some of the early shows did.  There is even some character development with the depth of Sakaki's feeling towards animals being explored and Kaorin's feelings for a certain classmate being revealed.  But mostly it was just plain fun.  There isn't any great dilemma or problems facing the girls, just who is going to win a foot race or what type of booth to have at the school's culture festival.  The relaxed attitude seems to accent the humor even more, giving time for Sakaki's deadpan look to get a laugh or letting Osaka's strange ideas sink in.

There are several great bits in every episode; I especially liked Sakaki's continuing attempts to pet a cat, any cat.  There are some disturbingly funny bits with the pedophilic teacher who is always lusting after the girls.  Though this character would never be featured in a show originating in the US, the Japanese don't seem to have a problem with him.  He continually has some of the strangest lines that always induce a laugh. He was in top form when he went to the swim team's refreshment stand and asked for a glass of water from the pool that the girls had swum in.

Chiyo-Chan isn't the main focus of these episodes, and she plays a supporting role in many of the shows.  That's good because the other characters are just as interesting.  I can't wait for the next volume.

The DVD:


Audio:

Like the first volume, this DVD offers the choice of the original Japanese language track in stereo or a 5.1 English dub.  The 5.1 English track was more enveloping than the Japanese track, but it doesn't sound superior.  The English track was actually fairly irritating.  It sounds like it was dubbed by people who have never actually heard a young girl talk, but are trying to imitate other cartoon girl voices.  The female voices were all high pitched and squeaky.  Osaka's voice was done with a fake southern accent that sounded really dumb.  I greatly preferred the Japanese track that was clean and clear with no hiss or audio distortion.

Video:

Being a recent production, the full frame video looked good.  The lines were tight and sharp, and the colors clear.  There was a fair amount of aliasing, with the diagonal lines having a stair step effect.  This is common with animated shows.  The colors were a little muted, but I think that this was the creator's intent.

The Extras:

This DVD includes a clean opening and closing, and a two-minute reel of production sketches.

The trailers on this disc are for Steel Angel Kurumi, Bast of Syndrome, Magical Play, Slayers Premium, and Final Fantasy Unlimited.

The clear case comes with a reversible cover, and there is a 12-page booklet enclosed.  The booklet had comments on each episode by various people who worked on the show.  It also contained explanations of the various cultural references in the series that western audiences may not understand. This was especially helpful in explaining some of the more obscure jokes, like when Osaka holds up an eggplant and a hawk while standing in front of Mt. Fuji in Sakaki's dream.  Surprisingly, it does actually mean something.

Final Thoughts:

This series is getting better as it goes on.  While some of the episodes on the first disc were a little disjointed, the creators have solved that problem and these shows hang together much better.  If anything they've gotten more humorous too.  This is a nice light series that isn't over the top like Excel Saga, but still has a good number of laughs. Recommended. 

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